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Peru’s Church To handle Spy Videos

February 21, 2001

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Peru’s Roman Catholic Church said it would handle the delicate task of returning videotapes to people secretly recorded, often in sexually compromising situations, by the country’s ex-spy chief.

For years, rumors circulated that the former spymaster Vladimiro Montesinos held sexually explicit tapes _ sometimes filmed in a Lima brothel _ over the heads of top military officials, lawmakers and business leaders to keep them in line.

Monsignor Luis Bambaren, president of Peru’s bishops’ conference, told Radioprogramas radio Tuesday that the church _ widely respected in this mostly Catholic nation _ would offer to return the videos to those who appear in the tapes, if they want them.

He said he did not have specific knowledge about the contents of the videos.

Court officials reviewing hundreds of videos for evidence of bribes and other illegal dealings between Montesinos and members of Peru’s political, military and business establishments, plan to give the church an undisclosed number of videos considered personal and outside the scope of their criminal investigation.

A court official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that some of the videos contain gatherings of top military commanders, lawmakers and officials in the brothel and in the headquarters of the National Intelligence Service.

Asked if the tapes contained sexually explicit material, the official replied, ``definitely.″

Montesinos, de facto chief of the National Intelligence Service and the power broker behind former President Alberto Fujimori’s 10-year autocratic rule, is believed to have fled the country in October.

Montesinos faces charges in Peru ranging from illicit enrichment and corruption of public officials to smuggling arms to Colombian guerrillas.

Congress declared Fujimori morally unfit for office in November after he fled to Japan amid mounting corruption scandals surrounding Montesinos.

The tapes have shown Montesinos or his emissaries paying apparent bribes and conspiring with election officials, lawmakers, top military officers, business leaders and media heads to assure Fujimori’s victory to a third straight term in office last year.

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